Emmanuel Mudiay has the ability to one day be the face of his future college and professional basketball teams. The 2014 Texas prep superstar is already thinking of how he can have a bigger impact beyond the hardwood.
His first name translates to "God with us," and Mudiay believes he can use his gift as a basketball player to share his faith with people around the world, much like the NFL's Tim Tebow, and Mudiay's lifelong mentor, Deion Sanders, did in their sport.
"God put us on this earth to preach the gospel, so that's what I believe in," Mudiay said. "It's not easy, but you still have to do what's right. Everything that I work for, God is the one who controls it. So I have faith in him."
Mudiay credits Sanders, who opened his Prime Prep Academy in Texas, with helping him develop on and off the court with lofty goals.
"(Deion) is a big Christian, too, so he always helps us out with life situations and everything like that," Mudiay said. "He's almost a father figure. He teaches me how to act in front of the media and stuff like that. He tells me if I want to be great, I can't stop working."
While Mudiay is among the nation's elite players at the high school level, he is working hard this summer to improve on the minor deficiencies in his game.
"Definitely working on taking no plays off and playing hard in every game and every possession, and getting more consistent," Mudiay said. "Don't turn the ball over as much. But that's all coming along, I have been playing pretty well so I have confidence."
In order to focus on his individual game, Mudiay left his Texas Pro AAU program earlier this month. There has been much speculation that the point guard left the program due team chemistry issues, but Mudiay strongly suggested that is not the case.
"Nothing really bad happened, but I felt like it was a personal choice that me and my family had to make as far as leaving the team," Mudiay said to Scout.com. "Nothing bad went on. They are great people and I have respect for them, but I felt like what I did was best for me at the moment so I couldn't play for them any longer."
Mudiay averaged 14.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 13 games for Texas Pro before leaving the team. Texas Pro is a part of the Nike EYBL, but failed to qualify for July's Peach Jam after posting a 7-11 record in the regular season.
With his time on the AAU circuit behind him, Mudiay plans dedicate the rest of the summer to national camps and individual workouts. He will start in June with the Pangos All-American camp this coming weekend.
At 6-foot-4, 185-pounds Mudiay fits the mold of a typical John Calipari point guard. He has a long wingspan and quick feet that allows him to be a force on both ends of the floor. He has shown the ability to knock down jump shots out to the college 3-point line. His speed and athleticism are comparable to former Calipari guards like John Wall, Derek Rose and Tyreke Evans, and like those players, Mudiay excels when he has the ball in the open court.
Those skills lead many to believe that Mudiay sits atop Calipari's wishlist at the point for 2014. The player believes that is the case, based on his discussions with the UK staff.
"Coach Cal says he wants to coach me, but at the same time he says he is recruiting Tyus (Jones) and some of the other guys because he can't just think he has me because it's not a done deal yet," Mudiay said. "So I definitely have to keep working so I can be the best point guard from my class."
And while it's not a done deal, the Texas stud remains high on the Wildcats and is looking forward to seeing more from the Kentucky fan base.
"To be honest, it's the hottest program out there right now," Mudiay said. "They've got (six) top-20 players coming in right now, so they are definitely the hottest team. The coach is great, Coach Cal. He knows what he's doing with his players, great point guard coach. Big Blue Nation is crazy, so I am definitely excited to see what they've got going on up there."
In addition, Mudiay has expressed an interest in playing with other elite players in college. He named several fellow Kentucky targets that would enjoy playing with at the next level.
"Cliff Alexander, I could see myself with him. Rashad Vaughn, and Trey Lyles," Mudiay said.
Mudiay has yet to schedule any official visits, but his recruitment has been narrowed down to 10 schools: "Baylor, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisville, Texas, N.C. State, Kansas, SMU, O.K. State, and St. Johns."
He plans to cut that list in half in the near future, but he has yet to do so. Along with Kentucky, Mudiay praised local programs SMU and Baylor.
"SMU's campus is about 20 minutes from my house," Mudiay said. "You've got Larry Brown, who is basically like the Godfather of basketball right now. All the coaches look up to him and ask him for advice. He talks to GMs every day. He just knows the game and he's coached plenty of great players like Chauncey Billups, Alan Iverson, all those guys."
As for Baylor, Mudiay has developed a great relationship with their coaching staff as well.
"Great school. I love their coaching staff – coach (Jerome) Tang, coach (Paul) Mills, coach (Scott) Drew. Their school is great, a Christian school. They always send me a little motivational, spiritual text almost every day, so I respect that."
While Mudiay is considering several in-state schools, he suggests being close to home will not play a factor in his recruitment.
"It did when I was younger, but not anymore," Mudiay said. "I know I'm going to have to grow as a player and as a person. So wherever I go I'm going to have to deal with it and make the best out of it."
Kentucky's highly-regarded team will make the trip to Arlington, Texas, in December when they take on Baylor at Cowboy Stadium, and Mudiay plans to be in the 100,000-plus seat facility when two of his leaders -- and quite possibly by that time, the school of his choice -- square off.
Mudiay has big vision for career
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